May 7, 2017
New York

JCIDA committee to discuss Apex Clean Energy’s PILOT application later this month

By Marcus Wolf | Watertown Daily Times | May 5, 2017 |

WATERTOWN – Donald C. Alexander decided that the payment-in-lieu-of tax agreement application from the developer of the Galloo Island Wind project was suitable and the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency’s loan review committee will discuss it May 19.

Mr. Alexander, the CEO of the Jefferson County Local Development Corp., said at the JCIDA Board of Directors meeting Thursday that Apex Clean Energy completed its application in December or January when its staff provided estimates for the number of turbines, megawatts and other project aspects that were close enough to what would be the project’s definite scope to begin the review process. The developer submitted its preliminary application in August, Mr. Alexander said, but the agency needed more information.

“It took them six months to drill down the numbers we need to work with,” Mr. Alexander said. “It gives us a starting point.”

The loan review committee, which will meet at 8 a.m. at the Jefferson County Economic Development office, 800 Starbuck Ave., will determine whether the application is complete and establish the process for reviewing the application materials.

JCIDA Chairman David J. Converse said the board will create an outline of what an agreement “might look like” and send that to the affected taxing jurisdictions, which include the county, the town of Hounsfield and the Sackets Harbor Central School District, for their comments.

Mr. Converse said he expects the state Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment will decide whether to approve Apex Clean Energy’s project during the Article 10 law review process before the JCIDA makes its decision.

“This isn’t something that is going to happen within a month or two,” he said.

Neil T. Habig, senior director of project development for Apex Clean Energy, delivered a presentation about the project’s proposed scope to the board at their meeting today.

The now-108.9-megawatt project will consist of 30 turbines instead of 32, with each 3.6 megawatt turbine “just under” 600 feet, but will still have an underwater transmission cable from Galloo Island to a National Grid substation in Oswego, Mr. Habig said. Apex’s project is expected to create three to five permanent positions and 100 to 150 construction jobs.

“(The turbines are) higher now,” Mr. Habig said.

The developer plans to submit its Article 10 application within the next four to six weeks and, pending the siting board’s decision, expects to finish the project in 2019.

“We feel confident that we will meet the intent of what Article 10 is setting out to accomplish,” Mr. Habig said.

In addition to the affected taxing jurisdictions, Mr. Alexander said he will contact Fort Drum officials to ensure the project would not have negative impacts on base operations.

Mr. Habig said he spoke with post officials, including former chief of the airfield’s aviation division, A. Joe White, and was told “we were outside their general area of concern.”

Fort Drum spokeswoman Julie A. Halpin, however, said Thursday the proposed Apex project “would have an impact on radar as it increases the clutter on the scope.”

She also expressed concerns that wind turbines in the area could negatively affect instrument approaches for aircraft, and negatively impact its air traffic control services.

The subject of wind facilities on the post’s air capabilities is part of a study being done by the Development Authority of the North Country on land use in the vicinity of the post.

Both Hounsfield Town Supervisor Timothy W. Scee and Jennifer Gaffney-Goodnough, who on July 1 will become the superintendent of the Sackets Harbor Central School District, expressed their support on behalf of their respective boards.

Mr. Scee said a PILOT agreement would help subsidize the town’s budget and the project would bring construction job opportunities for town residents.

“This is progress and a (financial) benefit to the community,” Mr. Scee said.

The JCIDA has not yet made its decisions on whether to adopt a revised uniform tax exemption policy that includes the county’s tax policy for alternative-energy projects, in which developers pay an amount equal to full taxation to the county for projects with an output greater than 25 megawatts.

Mr. Converse, however, said Apex Clean Energy’s project would be considered a deviation from the policy, meaning the agency would have to consult with affected taxing jurisdictions instead of making the decision itself. The agency’s loan review committee will revisit the policy in June.

“Any project like this is going to be a deviation,” he said.

[rest of article available at source]

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